A rule recently proposed by the Trump administration would roll back an Obama-era regulation that prohibits controversial and scientifically unjustified methods of hunting on Alaska’s national preserves, which are federal public lands. These egregious hunting methods include killing hibernating mother black bears and their cubs in the den with the aid of artificial lights, shooting wolf and coyote pups and mothers at their dens, using bait to attract brown and black bears, shooting vulnerable swimming caribou, including with the aid of motorboats, and using dogs to hunt black bears. Biologists have already condemned these methods, and now a supermajority of Alaska’s residents have spoken out resoundingly against allowing them in their state.
The telephone poll, conducted by Remington Research Group and released by the Humane Society of the United States, found a whopping 71 percent of Alaskan voters oppose allowing hunters to kill hibernating mother black bears and their cubs in the den with the aid of artificial lights. Sixty-nine percent oppose hunting black bears with packs of hounds, and 75 percent oppose hunting swimming caribou with the aid of motorboats. Sixty percent of Alaskan voters oppose the baiting of bears with pet food, grease, rotting game or fish or other high-calorie foods, and 57 percent oppose killing whole packs of wolves and coyotes when they are raising their pups in their dens.
The poll also found that a majority of voters disfavor allowing trophy hunters and trappers killing wolves, brown bears, black bears, wolverines, lynx and other wildlife on state lands along the northeast boundary of Denali National Park and Preserve.
In complete disregard for the wishes of the state’s residents, however, the Department of the Interior’s National Park Service is now accepting public comments on the controversial rule that’s designed to benefit a handful of trophy hunters looking for their next big kill.
This indiscriminate killing of native carnivores such as grizzly bears and wolves is often justified as “protecting” ungulates, animals like caribou and moose. But in Alaska and elsewhere, studies show, such predator control, including trophy hunting or culling of wild native carnivores in order to grow game herds, just doesn’t work. In fact, that is precisely the finding of a comprehensive new study that was reported in Scientific American.
On the other hand, live native carnivores like grizzly bears and wolves contribute immensely to the state’s economy. In Alaska, wildlife-watching tourism brings $2 billion every year to local, rural economies.
Several studies in Alaska show that predator control is doomed to fail, because the unforgiving Arctic lands cannot sustain large numbers of prey herds in the short growing seasons followed by extreme winters. Alaska officials have also failed to acknowledge that with the massive killing of wolves or bears, other smaller predators rise up to compete for those same prey, rendering these cruel and harmful predator control practices utterly futile.
Most Alaskans do not want hunters, backed by the deep pockets of trophy-hunting groups like Safari Club International and Alaska Outdoor Council, treating their state as a shopping mall for bearskin rugs and wolf heads to adorn their walls. American wildlife is for all of us to enjoy, and you can do your part to help save it by submitting a comment opposing this new proposed rule by July 23.